How do you create a state-of-the-art scientific research building–complete with hermetically-sealed labs–with all the chops to garner LEED certification? First, pull together $11.1 million in federal stimulus funding from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, then get KierenTimberlake Associates on the job.
The building consists of two parallel sections connected by glass-enclosed bridges across an open passage that admits natural light and outdoor breezes. Green features include an energy-recovery system expected to save as much as 30 percent of the energy needed to cool the building in the summer and a de-humidification system, which turns Houston’s sticky humidity into an asset by capturing and returning 100,000 gallons of clean water to Rice’s central plant each year.
The building’s laboratories were specifically designed for vibration-sensitive atomic, molecular and optical physics and condensed-matter research. Hermetically-controlled, these basement laboratories are stabilized on a two-foot-deep concrete slab and isolated from the building’s mechanical systems; state-of-the-art equipment supplies these labs with chilled water and filtered air, cleansed of submicroscopic dust.